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Percy Foreman on James Earl Ray (1968)


Sound | 1968

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  •  Richard Speck murdered eight women in Chicago in 1966. He was convicted in 1967 and originally sentenced to death.  
  •  Bruno Richard Hauptmann was convicted of the 1932 abduction and murder of the young son of aviator Charles Lindbergh. He was executed in 1936.  
  •  Lee Harvey Oswald was charged with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He was fatally shot by Jack Ruby while in police custody. Foreman represented Ruby at trial.  
  •  Sirhan Sirhan fatally shot Senator Robert F. Kennedy on June 5, 1968. He was convicted of murder in 1969, and sentenced to life in prison in 1972. 
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In this news segment for Houston’s KPRC-TV, criminal defense attorney Percy Foreman defends his decision to represent James Earl Ray. Ray was charged with the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Foreman joined Ray’s defense on November 10, 1968, six days before this segment was broadcast. The Houston-based attorney was already one of the best known trial lawyers in the United States. Foreman’s previous clients included Jack Ruby, shooter of Lee Harvey Oswald; Charles Harrelson, organized crime figure and hitman; and Melvin Lane Powers, nephew of Houston socialite Candy Mossler and accused killer of her husband. To avoid the death penalty, Ray pleaded guilty on March 10, 1969, and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. Three days later, Ray recanted his guilty plea and fired Foreman. He died in prison in 1998.